I have a good friend who does not hunt, fish, wear
camouflage or eat fried squirrel’s brains.
Thus, I was perplexed one Wednesday night when she
called and urged me to watch “Duck Dynasty” on A&E.
I didn’t think I’d be the least bit interested; still,
always willing to try new things — especially if they require sitting in
my chair — I tuned into the show.
The episode pitted the constantly competing brothers
Willie and Jase in a “fish off,” seeing who could snag the most fish and
sell them alongside the road.
I was not impressed.
give this show five minutes,” declared my skeptical self. I think
it took, oh, four minutes to become hopelessly hooked. Pardon the pun.
Who knew I’d find proudly proclaimed “rednecks”
amusing and attractive? Who knew I’d develop a crush on a man with a
big, bushy beard, who loves to gig and eat bullfrogs? Who knew I’d
eventually come to believe I wanted to drive to Monroe, La. and just
hang around, hoping to catch a glimpse of patriarch Phil Robertson, his
lovely wife Miss Kay, his hilarious brother “Uncle Si,” and their
several sons, especially the aforementioned Jase Robertson?
Apparently, I’m not the only one with such avid
feelings. “Duck Dynasty” has become the most popular TV show in America.
And if you think that’s weird, well, just wait till they can watch it
in, say, France!
I was startled during the pre-Christmas shopping
season to round a bend in Walmart and bump into Willie smiling at me.
The life-sized cardboard cutout was by no means the only likeness of the
Robertsons in the store. Their faces adorned bath towels, car mats and
the ubiquitous T-shirts.
I swear to you, there is a belly-laugh every minute or
two on this show. Sometimes, I’ve laughed until tears rolled down my
face. I have hooted so loudly, I scared little Brownie.
Take the episode where Willie — CEO of the family’s
multi-million-dollar duck-call manufacturing business, “Duck Commander”
— played Santa Claus for little children at a church party. Uncle Si, as
Santa’s grumpy elf, is so good, I’ve “protected” it on my DVR. That way,
I can watch it if ever I’m feeling down or out of sorts. Willie had good
intentions, but he made one big mistake: He put Si in charge of bringing
the gifts that Santa would hand from his sack to the excited kids. Si
grabbed whatever he could find at the company headquarters. Thus, a
5-year-old who wanted an electronic robot toy received a stapler
instead. A first-grade girl who wanted “a pink Barbie” received a
Costco-sized package of Styrofoam coffee cups. Finally, the kids were so
upset, Santa Willie was reduced to doling out $20 bills from his wallet.
And Uncle Si, the snarly elf, told the children a story about how one
winter it was so cold, Santa had to kill and eat his reindeer. There
were a lot of tears in the church social hall that afternoon. And a lot
of tears running down my cheeks, as I held my side and screamed out
Then there was the time when Uncle Si (he’s often the
catalyst for whatever ridiculous premise the show features each week)
couldn’t get his retriever to hunt. The dog would race after the duck
they shot, and then eat it himself.
Si was determined to find the perfect, obedient
hunting dog. Keep in mind, these people and their closest friends are
always in camo gear, often with black grease smeared on their faces, and
deer urine spritzed on their hunting togs.
You can imagine, then, the stir Si created when he
showed up with his new hunting dog: a perfectly groomed standard poodle,
apricot in color. Turns out, that dog could hunt!
There was a big hubbub recently about patriarch Phil.
His publicist made a fatal mistake: granting an interview with GQ
magazine. In it, Phil proclaims his redneck philosophy about gays. A&E
promptly banned Phil from the show. Naturally, with Phil out, all
Robertsons refused to appear. We came quite close
to losing our Wednesday diversion.
What other opinion would America expect, really, from
a man who, despite his master’s degree, refers to his own
daughters-in-law as “yuppie girls”? Well, millions of viewers created
quite the hubbub of their own; “Duck Dynasty” is back on the air with
Phil at the family helm. As Uncle Si might say, GQ yuppies ain’t happy,
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